“A lot of people say that Gray State is just fear porn and they’re not going to support it and its fear-mongering and stuff like that. Just because Gray State is scary doesn’t make it fear porn.” – David Crowley (9/15/12)
After the release of the Gray State movie trailer, David Crowley was interviewed by Freedom Feens radio host Michael W. Dean. The interview was released on September 15th, 2012, but was recorded two weeks prior to the release date. During the interview, David Crowley was asked if he had made any enemies as a result of the Gray State project. “I do know that I’ve already made a lot of enemies,” Crowley responded, “and this was a long time ago actually. I made enemies just by releasing little bits and talking to people about my idea for this film, long before it was even released as a trailer. And I have made ‘no shit’ enemies just because they don’t want to hear it, and a lot of them have been family. Not my family, but I’m talking about other actors who’ve spoken to their family about it and people who don’t wanna hear it, and what they do is they assign, like, ‘Well, that can’t be real. So it’s gonna be a terrible movie. So I don’t wanna hear anything about it.’ But I wonder if they thought the same thing about Toy Story. Like, ‘Hey, toys don’t talk. This movie sucks.’ So the negative reaction has largely been not reputable. So it’s just been a lot of silly banter about, you know, I’m a Zionist pig, and uh, don’t support my film.”
Dean also asked if Crowley had ever been contacted by a government agency, “If I were contacted by a government agency,” said David Crowley, “I would not know about it. So I can’t really answer that question. I’m sure that I have been. A lot of the reactions I’m getting about the trailer, they wanna peg me as some kind of Zionist-Jew, I guess, because my name is David. I guess that’s proof enough for them. My lead actor’s name is Danny Mason, ‘Oh you mean like Freemasons?’ You know, so they want to develop their own conspiracy theories. They wanna say the whole film is COINTELPRO, I’m just trying to develop lists to put them on. It’s all very, very silly.” Crowley was also accused of being a Marxist.
Gray State: The Movie Trailer
The Gray State movie trailer was released to the public on August 7th, 2012, but Crowley had been working on the project for two years before that. “The Gray State project has evolved since then. It’s gotten deeper. It’s gotten very much darker. And so, people, when they see this, their response is, as I knew they would be, they’re very divided. First of all, they’re very supportive, like, ‘Wow, this is like a future scenario that we can face, that we are facing right now unless we wake up.’ And then what they wanna do is they wanna assign their responsibility for activism to my project and assume that that’s what I wanna do, is wake people up with Gray State; when in fact I can’t make any such moral distinction because I’m a filmmaker. I’m an artist. What I’m gonna do is explore human truths and I can do so through a pretty messed up context like the Gray State world. But how real or not real it is is completely irrelevant. What I’m saying is, people kind of expect me to tell their story, their version of truth with Gray State, and that’s not my intent. If it resonates with truth with you, that is great. If it doesn’t that’s also great. But what I’ve been seeing is that the three-percent-or-so who really hate Gray State, they don’t hate it because it was shot poorly. Or, ‘That story could never work and here’s why.’ They hate it because it threatens them. It threatens their reality and that just tells me that what I’m doing is close to the truth at least, because they’re that threatened by it. I think that the reality that most people live in is almost like a religion. Like, if you challenge a Christian or a Muslim who just grew up believing what they believe, they don’t know how to defend it logically. What they’re gonna do is they’re gonna lash out in a very knee-jerk & negative response to defend their reality, and that’s just the nature of humanity I think. So what I’m seeing is in their reaction to Gray State is either very positive or very negative. It’s a very polarized argument.”
Asked if he’s a Christian, David responded, “I am. I am but I don’t know where to draw the line between what I’ve been taught my whole life and what is probably more closer to the truth, if that makes sense. I’ve done a lot of spiritual exploration. I tend to end at the same answers though.”
David Crowley re-affirmed how much money was spent on the trailer, “We spent $6,000 in cash, my partner and I.” Crowley’s production partner was his long-time friend Mitch Heil. “That’s just out of pocket through our production company. That’s just money spent harnessing the actors to our set and getting the props that we needed. But we spent another year in post[-production] doing 17 hour days. So how do you put a price tag on that really?”
David Crowley wanted to maintain creative control of the Gray State movie. However he also made a strange comment about feeding the monkey, “If a studio bought this project it would just get put on a shelf or be drastically changed from its original message. So in the interest of maintaining creative control, I will not sell the project. However, if it goes nowhere, and someone’s offering me $200 million dollars or something awesome like that, you know, who knows? I gotta feed the monkey. But as it stands right now, I wanna get this film funded and I will get it made for whatever budget I can get. If that means $500 thousand, great. If that means $25 million, like it needs, then that’s great too. But this movie will get made, even if it’s a long-term haul.”
The Gray State trailer did not put David Crowley in debt, and he seemed realistic about his financial future, “It’s all paid for…we paid cash for everything…If Gray State takes off and starts to pay the bills that’ll be sweet. Otherwise it’d have to take a back-burner while we make a living.”
Michael W. Dean also asked Crowley if he needed to get city permits before filming certain scenes for the trailer, “We wanted to do it for real but a lot of it was guerrilla, unfortunately. A lot of the scenes we did. It was like, it had the real-scale of a real production so a lot of them, yes, we went to the city, we got permits, we hired cops to babysit us for a few hours and we did it for real. But a lot of the stuff was just guerrilla, just because we couldn’t get ahold of the city liaison who does that stuff. Or they didn’t know what to do. It was only a three second shot anyway. So there’s a couple things like that but by-and-large it was a real production.”
When asked if Minneapolis had a film commissioner, David answered, “Minneapolis is a bitch to deal with. They wanna charge you like a hundred-fifty dollars an hour, even if you’re just a free-lance photographer. The initial park scene we shot in guerrilla-style, just real quick. But the St. Paul people, I mean, Twin Cities is Minneapolis in St. Paul, those guys are a delight to deal with. They’ll give you a cop. They’ll make all the communications for you and they’ll set it up for you and all you gotta do is send them a check at the end of the day.”
A Happy Ending?
When Michael W. Dean asked if the movie Gray State would have a happy ending David responding by asking the host a question, “What do you think? You tell me.” Of course, David knew the answer but he was curious to see if the host could guess the ending for himself.
“I would guess and hope that it probably has a triumphant ending,” Michael W. Dean told David, “but it’s the hero standing on a pile of bodies. Some of them, people he knew.”
“That’s pretty close,” David explained. “That’s pretty astute. I’m proud of you…There will be a pile of bodies. You won’t know who’s gonna end up in that pile when you’re watching it. A film has to follow convention. It has to follow that story-telling formula, otherwise the story doesn’t work…but once you know the rules, you can break the rules and Gray State breaks rules in that it’s not only immediately physical, it’s inter-dimensional. It’s very layered. It’s spiritual at times, without adhering to any sort of western philosophy. But it’s deep. It’s taken me a long time to craft this story and while it might not be a physically surface-level happy ending, anyone who’s paying attention will extract some real values from the ending.”
For more about the alleged double-murder suicide David Crowley is accused of committing, consider reading A Gray Shame by Greg Fernandez Jr.
Also watch what happened when a friend of David Crowley contacted me, hoping I would stop pursuing the possibility that David was innocent. Apple Valley Police have not proven their theory about David Crowley because their investigation is still on-going. Why should we assume David Crowley is guilty until the Apple Valley Police Department can prove their theory?